Israel begins biggest protest in years

Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in seven cities across Israel, and their social slogans are rapidly being replaced by the calls for the government to step down.

The biggest rally is underway in Tel Aviv with around 150,000 people having gathered at the “Tahrir Square of Israel.”

This demonstration, which started with demands of affordable housing, food, healthcare and education, has taken the authorities by surprise by turning into a political one and they certainly do not know how to deal with it, RT’s Paula Slier says. The calls for regime change and for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down are heard on the square.

“I’m here because it is just becoming impossible to live in this country anymore,” says one of the protestors. “We work and we give, and we keep on giving, and there is no end to it.”

“I think there is a lot of influence of what happened on Tahrir Square, in Syria, Lebanon, what we see in Libya,” says another. “People understand that they have the power and that they can organize themselves, they don’t need anymore the government to tell them what to do. They can start telling the government what they want. They can start deciding for themselves.”

“This is our last chance, this is our only hope, we have to change this because we have no other choice,” says a third protester.

Earlier on Saturday, Likud MK Ofir Akunis said Netanyahu is setting up a team to examine the lowering of taxes, Haaretz reported. This caused critics to say that Netanyahu is behaving in the same way that the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak reacted shortly before he was overthrown.

Israelis did support the democratic move of the Egyptian protesters, and now, a lot of Israeli demonstrators are making parallels between what is happening in Israel and what happened in Egypt. Everybody is excited by the fact that so many people across the country have mobilized with the potential to possibly overthrow Netanyahu.

Rallies started at 9 pm on Saturday, with the main events being held in Tel Aviv, where a large crowd has gathered in a square in front of the Tel Aviv Museum. The demonstrations, during which protesters are carrying banners with slogans for social rights, include musical performances from artists who support the movement.

There is a heavy security presence at the square, as the authorities are concerned there could be a repeat of last Saturday’s events. Police have secured the roads, and choppers are circling in the air.

Last Saturday there was a similar demonstration, although with fewer of protesters, which erupted into violence afterwards when several people were arrested for disturbing the peace on the street.

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